Tag Archive | birding

It started with…I got to get out of here!

Someplace away, serene, peaceful and all alone

It all started with a shared scream, “I got to get out of here!” COVID-19 has turned the world’s human population into the same class of sheltering animals as earthworms and moles. The Chinese Crud, the more accurate, but less politically correct title for the plague afflicting the world, keeps humans playing hide-and-seek. The Geezer and Mrs. G had enough of the same four walls. In unison, they announced their attentions. The question was where to go and be safe. My keen canine intellect knew just the place! Amity cabin. It’s the perfect place to travel to and be more isolated than at home. I’ll explain.

The little cabin in the Mississippi woods. It is located on a 40 acre lake in the middle of 400 acres with only the owners home to share it.

The Geezer loves to fish. He has tarpon and snook in the canal behind our Florida home. But, he loves to catch bluegills, crappies, and bass just as much. We visited this fishing and hunting paradise a couple of years ago when we made a pilgrimage to Mrs. G’s birthplace in Laurel. That’s in Jones County Mississippi, the site of the recent Mathew McConaughey movie, “The Free State of Jones.” The whole family fell in love with Amity, but it was I that remembered its beauty and haunting serenity. Mark one up for canine superiority. We drove straight through, 12 hours, to minimize exposure to the virus. Below are some of the pictures of our weeks stay.

What we came for: A bunch of 8 inch bluegill for a tasty supper. They’re loads of fun when caught on a light flyrod and a rubber spider. Caught tons of these we returned to Lake Fredrick.

 

Follow tracks like these…

Tracks like these…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The unspoiled woods that cover the property are a wildlife lover’s nirvana. We saw many deer, turkeys, pond birds, song birds, etc. Quail? Mrs. G whistled up Bob White and I thought we were in an outtake from Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” The track below was made by a big bruiser!

Big ol’ Buck tracks

Mrs. G loves all the flowers. Her particular favorite are the Magnolia blossoms that adorn the numerous waxy olive leaved trees. The one below was the size of a bucket.

OH, MAGNOLIA!

When all is said and done, that’s 800 miles and three woof’s later, there’s no place like home.

Me, back in Florida…with all my things!

 

The Geezer will be out and about in a safe manner this weekend. He’ll be speaking at the Authors for Authors, Writers Conference in Melbourne, Florida this Saturday. Registration is open at 8 AM, at the Hilton Rialto. Hope to see you there…from behind my mask.

 

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Remembering —-

Me with my mom, Breeze, and my brothers

Being sequestered in the house has given me time to remember. Memories are great things. They’re one of the few things that can’t be taken from us. I want to share a few of these with all of you in the form of pictures. They are snapshots from my mind. I hope you enjoy them.

Chating with my sister Gracie on a visit to her home in Jacksonville.

Watching the last space shot leave the Cape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 In the photo above. Gracie is my half sister – we shared the same mother. She owned a couple of humans in the Jacksonville area. We loved to play together. The picture was taken in a park on the St. Johns. Every time I see the shot of the space shuttle it saddens me. Why was moronic decision made to scrap our space program? We don’t have to move backwards for the rest of the world to go forward. Horrible decisions made by past politicians sent away our space program and our manufacturing. The Chinese/Corona crud has highlighted how idiotic these actions were.

Sunrise over the Atlantic

Some things are hard to picture in words. A sunrise like the one above and a sunset like the one below fall into that category.

Sunsets are mind quieters, particularly one as beautiful as this.

There are those experiences that always stay with us. The pictures below are reminders of two memorable ones that I’ve experienced.

 

Ain’t I boootiful — chomp, chomp? – Gators like dogs but not in a good way!

The Night Herons raise a new generation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing memories with others! Isn’t that a great part of life? Some of my friends and my human’s friends are included in the photos below. They are the good times. Remember some of yours while you see some of mine.

Linda and Larry

Chet “Coach” – left, the Geezer – middle, Betty Ann – Right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More friends and more friends and more friends and more friends and more friends and more friends and more friends and more friends and more friends.

My friend for 13 years, Oreo.

 

The Geezer at a Book Club with good friend Babs (left front).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope these pics helped you remember your own good times and good people.

 

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A Sad Day …

This was a rookery for night herons and other birds — now its an ugly scar.

I saw my humans cry today. That’s a rare sight. They are upbeat people. However, I understand them and cry too. Last night it was a wildlife haven. Now! What had been a little piece of natures beauty, is now a barren patch of dirt.

For thirty-eight years the mangroves across the canal from the Geezer’s home were a refuge. For nesting birds. For feeding manatees. For the occasional playing otter. For nosey raccoons. For turtles. For doves, kingfishers, cardinals, red-tailed hawks, green herons, and most especially night herons. Eight nesting pairs. I’ve been privileged to share this living canvas for the last twelve years. It was wonderful.

I heard the Geezer remind himself that there was a time when he destroyed a little piece of paradise. That he couldn’t be over critical of others that did what he had done. But when his meditation ended it was with this final thought…”Why do we humans love everything to death?” 

A bird stays to the last as he watches his nest destroyed.

Pictures in better days!

No caption required

A nesting Night Heron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two juvenile Night Herons just starting to show adult plumage.

Where manatees used to play

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve found another word for progress … shit.

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Same time next winter … Say Goodbye

Sandy & Trooper -2

The street won’t be the same for next six to seven months. The May sun is warming and our winter residents are leaving this part of Florida like cliché “rats leaving the ship.” Well, they’re not rats. Most are very nice dogs and their attendant humans.

Easter is like a giant gong that sounds and points RVs, SUVs, Pick-ups, and just plain cars north on I-75 and I-95. There are going away parties: Mrs. G just came home from one. Trooper, Lucy, Manny, Sparkle, and several more of the members of the Canine Hambone, Chowder and Marching Society are leaving. Sniffing mail-box posts, fireplugs, and palm tree bases just won’t be the same.

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A day at the fair …

Englewood Florida’s “Cracker Fair” was a great event. Heavily attended, its organizers deserve to take a bow.

 

Wow! The event I attended over the weekend gets a five bone award on a five bone scale. It had something that all who attended could enjoy. Woof-woof for the “Lemon Bay Historical Society Cracker Fair.” Everything from demonstrations of pioneer living, to the wildlife that Florida’s early settlers had for neighbors entertained and educated. You couldn’t help but be impressed by the folks who made up the very large crowd. I spoke to men and women from nine different countries. (Count ’em – England, Canada, India, France, Denmark, Germany, Columbia, Switzerland, and South Africa.) Like you’d expect, many canines took their humans to the cultural event. I had a chance to bark with breeds from – Boxers to Yorkies – with Chihuahuas, Bull dogs, German Sheperds, and many others mixed in. Of course, other Goldens were well represented. I distributed my canine cookie recipe to so many, I almost ran out of the cards it’s printed on. Below are some interesting pics from the fair.

 

This hawk checked out the spectators. Old talons was part of the wildlife exhibit.

“Who dat?” The wise old owl asked about an admirer. Wildlife was there courtesy of a wildlife rescue/refuge group. They do great work!

There wasn’t a negative about the fair. The result on the Geezer … that’s another thing. It will take a month for the swelling to go down. He was the featured speaker during the town’s history week at Charlotte/Englewood library a few days before and many people stopped by to tell him they really enjoyed his presentation. (At that point, an air-compressor hose was attached to his cranium) A couple individuals asked him to speak to their organizations. If that wasn’t bad enough, four people who have read his books stopped by to buy more and tell him how much they loved his stuff. That last part, the loved his stuff, was bad! The compressor fired off. Putt, putt, putt, putt……… Next, two placed orders for a book he’s in the process of finishing. Compressor. Faster.  Buttabuttabuttabutta……….. Finally, one person left her name with a standing order for each new book when it comes out. Compressor. Race. Bbbbrrrruuuummmmmmmm………. The old turkey will be hard to live with for a while. If I can find a large pin, I’ll puncture that balloon – that is if I can find a way to shelter from the gush of hot air that will rush out at hurricane force.

The Geezer loves history and the culture of ALL of our past. He believes that choosing to ignore history insures the same mistakes will be relived. Ignoring or “deleting” what’s happened won’t change one thing and only drastically increases the probability of an instant replay.

The Cracker Fair is all about history. Some intrepid re-enactors sweated and sweltered in the Florida sun so the visitors could get the flavor of the times. Below are a couple of gentlemen who were walking, talking history books. They added mystic and ambiance besides answering questions about the time period.

Infantryman Gene, a friendly fellow from the Florida militia, circa 1860s

Here comes the cavalry! An officer from the same period. One neat guy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worse, the Geezer will be speaking at the Helen B. Hoffman Library, located at 501 N Fig Tree Lane, in Plantation, Florida, Monday 2/12 at 10 AM. He’ll be speaking about “The loyal 14th colony: Florida in the Revolutionary War.”

I may need a blimp tender to hold him down after that.

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Vindicating vacation value …

“Where do you want to go, Geezer?” I asked.

He thought for at least two minutes, that’s a long time when you’re waiting for an answer. Finally, he spoke, “Remember Seinfeld famously said his show was about nothing? So, I want to do the Seinfeld thing … Nothing. I want to go where I can do that.”

I looked at him wondering if the steam in his boiler had escaped. “Nothing? You can do that at home.”

“No Sandy, I can’t. The phone rings, the Internet calls, my next chapter demands to be worked on if I stay here. So … I’m going where no phone will bother me, where there’s no wifi, and to a place I’m far away from my research notes and computer.”

“Is there such a place beside heaven?”

“Yes, I think I’ve found utopia.” He smiled. “We’re going to Amity.”

The view from Amity Cabin’s front porch – A beautiful 38 acre lake we had to ourselves. Except for fish that lined up to strike our lures.

 

The place DL found was off the beaten path. Let me rephrase: This wonderful piece of seclusion was off a once used game trail. Located in Mississippi near the Alabama line, the farm Amity Cabin is built on isn’t close to anything most Americans recognize as a “destination.” The rolling terrain, the beauty of the unspoiled pines, magnolia blossoms, curious deer, and mirror-like-lake, wrapped  a serenity blanket around us.

Pines in the morning mists

A full house … The Mississippi Martin Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’d been at Amity for three days when the old boy’s wisdom became undeniably evident. He’d found the ultimate location and way to relax. We sat on the porch, watching martins pilot their bodies over the lake, dipping, zigging, zagging, and intercepting insects that would be their babies’ lunch. “I have to tell you, Geezer, I thought you were crazy. You weren’t. This is the closest thing to a battery charger for humans I’ve ever seen.”

He nodded. “The one solace accumulating years brings is the wisdom experience imparts. I spent years going on vacations that were scheduled tighter than my work regimen prescribed. I’d race from attraction to attraction, take advantage of sight-seeing or night-life at any place I happen to stay, and squeeze in some work to salve my misguided conscience. The result … I was exhausted at its conclusion. A vacation from the vacation seemed necessary. Then, I discovered this is what I needed. When I returned from a true rest, I found my productivity and creativity returned to the 150% I strive for.”

Mrs G and I had time to read our favorite magazine, Garden & Gun – Wow – what a luxury.

The Geezer rockin’ the day away on Amity Cabin’s front porch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While our life style was definitely not an episode of “Naked and Afraid,” we were able to commune with nature. Deer visited daily … herons, owls, hawks, martins, robins, cardinals, and a multitude of other birds flitted around us … quail whistled “bob-white” from sun-up to sun-down, and a raccoon peered through the glass front door each evening, daring me to give chase. I didn’t even bark at him … not after his first appearance. It was my chance to relax, too.

 

A magnificent magnolia blossom. – The candle holders in the photo show size – each is 5″ in diameter. These flowers’ fragrance sweeten each day at Amity.

 

Most importantly, it was away from the filth Washington and the New York media dumps on us daily. There are no (vomit) politics on the farm. There are no assassination attempts at Amity. The only ABC we saw was in books we read. The FOX we watched had four legs. The Washington Post found its best purpose … to wrap garbage.

Yep, the value of our vacation was vindicated.

 

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To go or not to go, that’s my question. Not for you … you GO!

 

One of the pioneer houses at the Crowley Museum

One of the pioneer houses at the Crowley Museum

To go or not to go that is the question. Whether to be admired and petted by my many admirers or to risk the hooves and horns of free ranging farm animals … Wow what a question. The Geezer says I can go with him on one of his trips … I always beg him to … now I’m not so sure I’ll go.

The Geezer or DL Havlin as he’s better know, is one of the speakers at the Southwest Florida Heritage Festival at the Crowley Museum this Saturday. He’ll be doing two presentations. One will be “The Loyal 14th Colony: Florida and the Revolutionary War” which he’ll present at 1:30. The other will be on the years from 1865 through 1914. He calls that one, “Florida, the forgotten years,” and his talk will begin at 11:30 for that one.

There will be a large number of fun and educational events held at the Crowley. Don’t miss it! Here is a site that provides more information including directions on how to get there.  http://crowleyfl.org/calendar/heritage-festival/    DL (and maybe me) will be there. There will be all kinds of demonstrations from blacksmithing to pioneer cooking. Live music, too.

Here are more pics taken at Crowley.

An 1800's Cracker Limo

An 1800’s Cracker Limo

"I have nothing to offer you but blood, sweat, and grits" A pioneer kitchen---

“I have nothing to offer you but blood, sweat, and grits” A pioneer kitchen—

What put the CRACK in Cracker -- An exhibit at the Crowley Museum.

What put the CRACK in Cracker — An exhibit at the Crowley Museum.

The Geezer’s latest book has been released. It’s a suspense mystery novel titled The Bait Man. It will be available through your local book stores and on-line in ten days to two weeks.

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They’re too sexy for their feathers … too cute for this picture shoot …

 

Owl in home

Wise young owls … burrowing owls that is. The youngsters don’t quite trust my doggy smile.

 

“I’ll only take a few moments!” – That’s what I yelled at the Geezer so I can send out this quick post. Getting my paws on the keyboard, right now, is like getting any two people to agree on politics. I had to share the pictures of these cuties we saw while taking a ride in the neighboring city of Cape Coral. Burrowing Owls are a protected species and the “Cape” does a good job of doing just that. (Much to the consternation of some home owners and builders) Papa owl is pictured below as he stands guard on his “young-uns.”

The Geezer has been super busy the last few weeks traveling to other states for conferences, historical research for a series of novels, etc. and conducting seminars and speaking locally. He hasn’t done much writing in three weeks and that makes him as grumpy as bear leaving hibernation. This was such a good set of pics I had to get them posted.

 

Owl w-protected sign

Papa owl watching over his family

 

Owl family

The whole fam-damilly – Mom, Dad, and the four kids.

 

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They’re back … and love is in the air!

 

Love is in the air!

Momma manatees give birth and are raising calves in our canal. We have two "toddlers" this year.

Momma manatees give birth and are raising calves in our canal. We have two “toddlers” this year.

Each spring our back yard becomes a nursery/rookery for the manatees and night herons.

Here are a few pics of the returning wildlife. We’re up to eight night heron nests and two extended families of manatees. (Seven in one “herd” and five in the other.) When all twelve are cavorting around our narrow canal we need to install a traffic light. Some weigh well over 500 pounds. In addition two green heron nests are sandwiched in between the night herons.

Nosing up to the mangroves to nibble on the leaves.

Nosing up to the mangroves to nibble on the leaves. Notice #2 up under the bushes?

Here’s a brief film clip of manatees being manatees.

The night herons normally do a good job of hiding their nests so it takes some real concentration to find them camouflaged in the mangroves. We have an exception this year. The pair are real exhibitionists. The Geezer calls them Madonna and Justin. Here are some pics.

Green heron!

Green heron invasion! Sometimes you wish for a camera but…….. A black snake tried to steal this herons eggs, but the whole bird community responded and made Swiss Cheese of Mr. Slithers.

 

Mom and babies - how quickly they grow!

Mom and babies – how quickly they grow!

 

Madonna and Justin showing off their plumage!

Madonna and Justin showing off their plumage!

 

Exhibitionists !!!!!!!!

Exhibitionists !!!!!!!!

 

This green heron looks like he has a hangover in the early morning light.

This green heron looks like he has a hangover in the early morning light.

 

Ain’t love grand?

 

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Waiting on the Stork

The Geezer says he knows how this night heron feels waiting on the stork

The Geezer says he knows how this night heron feels waiting on the stork, I do too–

Waiting! Waiting! Waiting! I wonder how much time I spend doing that. I wait for my humans to feed me. I wait for them to walk me. I wait on the armadillo to come out of his hole so we can play. I wait on the Geezer to get my pull-toy so we can play tug-of-war. I wait for Mrs. G to stop petting Oreo so I can monopolize her attention. It seems like most of my life is spent in the sheer boredom of waiting.

Normally, I’d say humans have little understanding of the suffering we canines endure, but in this instance … this one instance … the Geezer understands. Right now he’s waiting. Waiting on his new book Bully Route Home to get into the stores. Waiting for the change his publisher is making in distributors to settle out. Waiting for response from agents on two of his manuscripts. Waiting for final publishing editorial approval on another. Waiting! Waiting! Waiting!

I pass my waiting time on a carefully planned and regimented schedule. Seventy-two percent is spent sleeping on one of my two large pillows. Another 12% is spent wimpering at my humans feet. It makes them feel guilty … the result … I get treats. Ten percent goes to my exercise program. That consists of rolling on my back, stretching when I get out of bed, and scratching imaginary fleas (don’t have any, but one must keep their techniques sharp). The rest is used to do what a girl’s got to do.

The Geezer simply spends his waiting time writing … and writing … and writing. Which, you already guessed, creates more waiting time. Humans, they learn slow or not at all.

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